Numerical simulations using RANS–based CFD have been utilised to carry out investigations on the effects of unsteady wind in the performance of a wind tunnel vertical axis wind turbine. Using a validated CFD model, unsteady wind simulations revealed a fundamental relationship between instantaneous VAWT CP and wind speed. CFD data shows a CP variation in unsteady wind that cuts across the steady CP curve as wind speed fluctuates. A reference case with mean wind speed of 7m/s, wind speed amplitude of ±12%, fluctuating frequency of 0.5Hz and mean tip speed ratio of 4.4 has shown a wind cycle mean power coefficient of 0.33 that equals the steady wind maximum. Increasing wind speed causes the instantaneous tip speed ratio to fall which leads to higher effective angle of attack and deeper stalling on the blades. Stalled flow and rapid changes in angle of attack of the blade induce hysteresis loops in both lift and drag. Decreasing wind speeds limit the perceived angle of attack seen by the blades to near static stall thus reducing the positive effect of dynamic stall on lift generation. Three mean tip speed ratio cases were tested to study the effects of varying conditions of VAWT operation on the overall performance. As the mean tip speed ratio increases, the peak performance also increases.

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